In the wake of Wednesday’s #OurCampus walkout and last week’s flag destruction incident, another protest of sorts marked the end of a tense week. According to the Department of Public Safety, a group of 10 to 12 vehicles drove through campus starting at around 4:15 p.m. This was apparently “in reaction to the recent flag vandalism incidents,” Deputy Chief of Campus Police Paul Shanley wrote in an email to The Herald.
“They beeped their horns at some points,” Shanley said, adding that they “at one point stopped and played the national anthem.” The protestors did not attempt to access the campus itself, he added.
“I was at Sears Hall, and when I looked out there were all of these white people in these white trucks,” Katherine Jiménez ’19 said, confirming that the group appeared to be exclusively white. She added that some of the vehicles bore American and “Don’t Tread on Me” flags. “They were being very loud and roaming the area,” she said.
“It felt incredibly intimidating,” Jiménez said, adding that “it felt very white nationalist and alt-right.”
“I called DPS, and they told me that they knew it was going to happen,” Jiménez said, adding that she was told that “DPS along with the Providence Police would be overseeing the so-called protest.” She added that she was told the protest would end by 5:30 p.m. and that DPS had not received any complaints about the motorcade.
“We did have advance notice of the possibility (of a protest),” Shanley said, adding that “DPS and Campus Life were present as a precautionary measure.” The protest did not appear to be associated with any specific organization, he added.
Reports on the exact number of vehicles involved in the protest varied from the 10 to 12 originally estimated by DPS. A source who spoke on the condition of anonymity estimated that there were 10 to 20 trucks organized in a line at one point. Jiménez said she witnessed five to seven vehicles on Charlesfield Street, but there were already more on Waterman Street at that point.
In a post on the public Facebook group “Resist Hate RI,” Elisabeth Hubbard wrote that she saw at least 20 vehicles circling the College Hill neighborhood “complete with a Dixie horn.”
“They noisily circled several times and then sped off like cowards,” Hubbard wrote. “I just witnessed a horrible act of intimidation.”
“It’s come here, guys,” Hubbard wrote to the group. “We need to be vigilant.”